Fund CVS Study Now
Two years ago the House Appropriations Committee voted to recommend spending $5 million for a study into the physiological effects of computer-related eye problems.
After two years, what
do we have to show for it? One big goose egg. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.
That’s how much the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH) has spent studying the debilitating effects of computer vision
So, this year when your
local Congressman comes calling about campaign contributions, put a bug
in his or her ear about actually funding that NIOSH study.
But this is about more than getting optometry schools into the forefront of health research (although that’s not a bad dividend). It’s about giving NIOSH information that can directly benefit the health of employees, not to mention boost their productivity for the people they work for.
Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Laboratories have done considerable
research into healthy computer use. In one survey, 4,500 office workers
said that eyestrain was their chief complaint. NIOSH itself says that vision
and vision-related problems—headaches, blurred vision, neck and back pain
and eye fatigue—are more common than carpal tunnel
Related research at Cornell has found that computer workers who take short breaks and occasionally stretch are more productive than those who pound away at the keyboard without breaks. Cornell professor Alan Hedge says that workers who received screen alerts to take the breaks were 13% more accurate in their work than those who didn’t. Another Cornell study found that computer users who put glass anti-glare filters over their screens had about half the visual problems of those who didn’t.
It doesn’t get better. Cornell—the upstate New York school seems to have a proclivity for this kind of research—says elementary school children are now at risk for postural problems because they use computers workstations that have been designed “with little or no regard for musculoskeletal development.” So much for computers in the classroom.
It all points to a pandemic that needs to be addressed. We all know the eyes lead the body. Congress and the President would do well to fund the $5 million NIOSH study. It will not only help make our workplaces more productive; it will help make your computer-using patients healthier. That goes for their children, too.
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